Saturday, 20 July 2013


 Vancouver City Hall is about to embark on a new adventure: the Bike Share program. An administrative report is to be presented on July 23rd. The report recommends that a company named Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. be the owner, operator, and financier of the Vancouver Public Bike Share  system.

The City will contribute  up to $6 million to Alta in potential foregone parking revenue. The report says that Legal services advised on the contract and business structure throughout this project.

I hope they release the legal opinion.

This matter is governed by Sections 203,  204 and 206  of the Vancouver Charter which deal with powers of Council relating to businesses. Section 204 deals with authorized expenditures. None of these sections seem to  authorize anything like what is proposed. That is not to say that it could not possibly be done. It just is that if it is legal, a battalion of city lawyers must have spent a lot of time getting around the,"no ones above the law" thing.  If they are grasping at straws, s. 206 of the Vancouver Charter might help:  (j) any organization deemed by the Council to be contributing to the culture, beautification, health, or welfare of the city;

Other municipalities in B.C. are governed by the Local Government Act and the Community Charter. Section 25 of the Community Charter prohibits municipal councils from providing any “grant benefit, advantage or other form of assistance to a business unless expressly authorized under this or another Act”. S. 182 of the Local Government Act, has a similar provision.

One reader has described the process as "the blind leading the sycophantic." That seems to be an apt description of everything this gang does. A June 2012 power point presentation from the Deputy Manager is found at  The word "Legal" is listed under the heading "Risk Themes".  That is it. Helmets are also listed as a risk to the program. Paradoxically, a risk to the program is seen  as a trade off against the risk to the head.

It has been held that if a Council has received a legal opinion that an expenditure is unauthorized the Councillors may be personally liable.

Bloomberg Business Week supports the New York version of the  program but doubts it will make money.


The article notes that in France, the program is run by the French outdoor-advertising group JCDecaux, the world’s largest operator of urban bike-sharing systems. Decaux runs such programs in 66 cities worldwide, including Paris,***Decaux, though, has never made money from its bike-share programs. It operates them as part of broader contracts with city governments that allow Decaux–whose main business is outdoor advertising—to place ads on bus shelters, kiosks, and elsewhere. The money comes not from the rentals, but from the advertising. The economic model is to finance the bicycle service through urban advertising.

While on the topics of transportation, health, safety and infrastructure, did you know that the elevators in both Vancouver General Hospital and Saint Pauls Hospital don't work? A story in the Sun in the last couple of weeks said that patients were trapped in Vancouver General's elevators and the fire department had to help get them out.

In St Pauls 4 out of 8 elevators do not work. I have been told that they have had trouble getting funds to make repairs. Delays can be life threatening.

Although the City is not suppose to give assistance to business, it is given specific power to help hospitals. Section 206 of the Vancouver Charter provides:

206. (1) The Council may, by resolution passed by not less than two-thirds of all its members, provide for the making of money grants to ***(f) the Vancouver General Hospital or any other hospital which in the opinion of Council provides similar services;

We are all only young twice. If they could just get the patients in acute care who are young for the second time to ride bikes, the City would find the money.


  1. Although Gregor and his band of bicycle ideologues apparently don't see this as a "Grey Point", an aside is that if people have to provide helmets to satisfy present laws, and those laws are enforced, the whole thing will flop not fly!

    I do own and ride a bicycle by the way.


    1. Thanks Jim. I know that a foolish consistency is said to be the hobgoblin of small minds, but claiming that changes to Pt Grey Road is a justifiable safety measure, but wearing a helmet is not, is exactly what I would expect from perennial adolescent brats.